The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition (Philemon)

The Gift of Magic ~Carl Jung The Gift of Magic [Illustration 127.]

Soul: “Do you not hear something?”

I: “I’m not aware of anything, what should I hear?”

Soul: “ringing.”

I: “ringing? What? I hear nothing.”

Soul: “Listen harder.”

I: “Perhaps something in the left ear. What could it mean?”

Soul: “Misfortune.”

I: “I accept what you say I want to have fortune and misfortune.”

Soul: “Well, then, raise your hands and receive what comes to you.”

I: “What is it? A rod? A black serpent? A black rod, formed like a serpent-with two pearls as eyes-a gold bangle around its neck. Is it not like a magical rod?”

Soul: “It is a magical rod.”

I: “What should I do with magic? Is the magical rod a misfortune? Is magic a misfortune?”

Soul: “Yes, for those who possess it.”

I: “That sounds like the sayings of old-how strange you are, my soul! What should I do with magic?”

Soul: “Magic will do a lot for you.”

I: “I’m afraid that you’re stirring up my desire and misunderstanding. You know that man never stops craving the black art and things that cost no effort.”

Soul: “Magic is not easy, and it demands sacrifice.”

I: “Does it demand the sacrifice of love? Of humanity? If it does, take the rod back.”

Soul: “Don’t be rash. Magic doesn’t demand that sacrifice. It demands another sacrifice.”

I: “What sacrifice is that?”

Soul: “The sacrifice that magic demands is solace.”

I: “Solace? Do I understand correctly? Understanding you is unspeakably difficult. Tell me, what does this mean?”

Soul: “Solace is to be sacrificed.”

I: “What do you mean? Should the solace that I give or the solace that I receive be sacrificed?”

Soul: “Both.”

I: “I’m confused. This is too dark.”

Soul: “You must sacrifice solace for the sake of the black rod, the solace you give and the solace you receive.”

I: Are you saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to receive the solace of those I love? And should give no solace to those I love? This means the loss of a piece of humanity; and what one calls severity toward oneself and others takes its place.”

Soul: “That is how it is.”

I: “Does the rod demand this sacrifice?”

Soul: “It demands this sacrifice.”

I: “Can I, am I allowed to make this sacrifice for the sake of the rod? Must I accept the rod?”

Soul: “Do you want to or not?”

I: “I can’t say What do I know about the black rod? Who gives it to me?”

Soul: “The darkness that lies before you. It is the next thing that comes to you. Will you accept it and offer it your sacrifice?”

I: It is hard to sacrifice to the dark, to the blind darkness-and what a sacrifice!”

Soul: “Nature-does nature offer solace? Does it accept solace?”

I: “You venture a heavy word. What solitude are you asking of me?”

Soul: “This is your misfortune, and-the power of the black rod.”

I: “How gloomily and full of foreboding you speak! Are you sheathing me in the armor [Image 127] of icy severity? Are you clasping my heart with a bronze carapace? I’m happy with the warmth of life. Should I miss it? For the sake of magic? What is magic?”

Soul: “You don’t know magic. So don’t judge. What are you bristling at?”

I: “Magic! What should I do with magic? I don’t believe in it, I can’t believe in it. My heart sinks-and I’m supposed to sacrifice a greater part of my humanity to magic?

Soul: “I advise you, don’t struggle against this, and above all don’t act so enlightened, as if deep down you did not believe in magic.”

I: “You’re inexorable. But I can’t believe in magic, or maybe I have a completely false idea of it.”

Soul: “Yes, I gather that from what you’re saying. Cast aside your blind judgment and critical gesture, otherwise you’ll never understand. Do you still mean to waste years waiting?”

I: “Be patient, my science has not yet been overcome.”

Soul: “High time that you overcame it!”

I: “You ask a great deal, almost too much. After all-is science essential to life? Is science life? There are people who live without science. But to overcome science for the sake of magic? That’s uncanny and menacing.”

Soul: Are you afraid? Don’t you want to risk life? Isn’t it life that
presents you with this problem?”

I: “this leaves me so dazed and confused. Won’t you give me an enlightening word?”

Soul: “Oh, so it’s solace you long for? Do you want the rod or don’t you?”

I: “You tear my heart to pieces. I want to submit to life. But how difficult this is! I want the black rod because it is the first thing the darkness grants me. I don’t know what this rod means, nor what it gives-I only feel what it takes. I want to kneel down and receive this messenger of darkness. I have received the black
rod, and now I hold it, the enigmatic one, in my hand; it is cold and heavy; like iron. The pearl eyes of the serpent look at me blindly and dazzlingly. What do you want, mysterious gift? All the darkness of all former worlds crowds together in you, you hard, black piece of steel! Are you time and fate? The essence of nature,
hard and eternally inconsolable, yet the sum of all mysterious creative force? Primordial magic words seem to emanate from you, mysterious effects weave around you, and what powerful arts slumber in you? You pierce me with unbearable tension-what grimaces will you make? What terrible mystery will you create?
Will you bring bad weather, storms, cold, thunder and lightning, or will you make the fields fruitful and bless the bodies of pregnant women? What is the mark of your being? Or don’t you need that, you son of the dark womb? Do you content yourself with the hazy darkness, whose concretion and crystal you are? Where in
my soul do I shelter you? In my heart? Should my heart be your shrine, your holy of holies? So choose your place. I have accepted you. What crushing tension you bring with you! Isn’t the bow of my nerves breaking? I’ve taken in the messenger of the night.”

Soul: “The most powerful magic lives in it.”

I: “I feel it and yet can’t put into words the nightmarish power granted to it. I wanted to laugh, because so much alters in laughter, and resolves itself only there. But laughter dies in me. The magic of this rod is as solid as iron and as cold as death. Forgive me, my soul, I don’t want to be impatient, but it seems to me that
something has got to happen to break through this unbearable tension that came with the rod.”

Soul: “Wait, keep your eyes and ears open.”

1: “I’m shuddering, and I don’t know why.”

Soul: “Sometimes one must shudder before-the greatest.”

I: “I bow, my soul, before unknown forces- I’d like to consecrate an altar to each unknown God. I must submit. The black iron in my heart gives me secret power. It’s like defiance and like contempt for men.” ~Carl Jung, The Red Book, The Gift of Magic, Pages 379-383 [Reader’s Edition]